News Abortion

Could Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment Criminalize Miscarriage?

Robin Marty

A letter writer asks if anti-choice activists are sure of what all that they are outlawing with their new amendment.

Every year, Georgia Representitive Bobby Franklin would introduce a bill to ban abortions that would force women to potentially have miscarriages investigated to ensure they weren’t actually trying to end their pregnancies.

Now, one Mississippi State University student is concerned that if the state’s new “personhood” amendment passes, it could unintentionally criminalize miscarriage, too, as well as set off a plethora of other unintended consequences.

Via the Reflector:

As Amendment 26 is written, the initiative would:

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-Limit access or outlaw many commonly used forms of birth control, including pills and IUDs.

-Harm fertility research and access to fertility treatments.

-Make criminalizing miscarriages an easier task, as 26 does not distinguish between spontaneous miscarriage and murder.

-Criminalize life-saving measures for women suffering ectopic or tubal pregnancies.

-Drive up the costs of Medicaid, Medicare, health insurance and medical malpractice insurance.

-Violate patient-doctor confidentiality.

-Allow the government — not doctor and patient — to make important, private health decisions.

An abortion restriction that could have numerous unintended, unrealized additional consequences that could go even further to hurt women?  I’m sure the authors had no idea that could occur.

News Abortion

Common Abortion Procedure Could Soon Be Outlawed in Mississippi

Teddy Wilson

Dilation and evacuation bans are a strategy by the anti-choice movement to target specific abortion procedures. Medical professionals criticize these bans as substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors.

Several Mississippi Democrats joined Republicans in passing a bill Tuesday that would criminalize a medical procedure often used after miscarriages and during second-trimester abortion care.

HB 519, sponsored by Rep. Sam Mims (R-McComb), would prohibit a physician from performing a so-called dismemberment abortion unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the pregnant person.

The bill targets the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure. During the procedure, a physician dilates the patient’s cervix and removes the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.

Violation of the measure would be a felony, and physicians could face fines up to $10,000 and up to two years in jail.
Republican legislators in several states have introduced bills to ban the D and E procedure over the past two years. The bills have been copies of legislation drafted by the anti-choice group known as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

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Federal courts have blocked such measures passed by GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma and Kansas. West Virginia’s GOP-majority legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill.

D and E bans are the latest chapter in a decades-old strategy by the anti-choice movement to target specific abortion procedures. Health and medical professionals criticize these bans as substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors.

D and E abortion bans may effectively outlaw abortions past 14 weeks’ gestation. Non-medication abortions are usually performed using vacuum aspiration prior to 14 weeks’ gestation. The D and E procedure is used after that point, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told the Jackson Free Press that the bill represented an intrusion into sound medical care.

“You’re having the legislature tell a physician what instruments he or she can use, and that’s a dangerous precedent because you can use those instruments at eight or ten weeks, or anytime,” Derzis said.

The bill was easily passed by majorities in the Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature.

After passage by the house in February, the state senate passed the bill in a 40-6 vote, with ten Democrats joining Republicans in passing the measure.

The house voted on final passage of the bill Tuesday with an 85-32 vote, approving the amended version passed by the state senate. Nine house Democrats joined with the Republican majority in voting for final passage.

Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who has said that it is his goal to “end abortion” in the state, has not yet said whether he will sign the D and E ban. After the bill is delivered to the governor, he will have five days to sign or veto the bill, after which time the bill will become law without his signature.

The law would take effect July 1.

News Abortion

West Virginia Governor Vetoes GOP’s Ban on Common Abortion Procedure (Updated)

Teddy Wilson

Republican supporters of the anti-choice bill are preparing to hold a vote to override the governor’s veto, which could come as early as Thursday.

UPDATE, March 11, 10:25 a.m.: West Virginia’s GOP-majority legislature voted Thursday to override the governor’s veto. The new law banning the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure will take effect in 90 days.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would criminalize a medical procedure often used after a miscarriage and during second-trimester abortions.

SB 10, sponsored by state Sen. Dave Sypolt (R-Preston), would prohibit someone from performing or attempting to perform a dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the pregnant person.

The D and E procedure is commonly used in second-trimester abortion care. During the procedure, a physician dilates the patient’s cervix and removes the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.

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“I am advised this bill is overbroad and unduly burdens a woman’s fundamental constitutional right to privacy,” Tomblin said in a statement. “Among the bill’s prohibitions is a leading pre-viability medical procedure [D and E] that, for reasons of patient safety, is preferred by physicians.”

Under the GOP-backed bill, a physician who violates the anti-choice law would be guilty of a felony and may be fined $10,000 and imprisoned for up to two years. The physician may also face injunction and civil damages.

Republican legislators in several states have pushed legislation to ban the D and E procedure over the past year. The bills have been copies of legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

Federal courts have blocked similar measures passed by GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV FREE, a reproductive health advocacy organization, praised Tomblin for vetoing the bill. She said in a statement that the legislation would take away a pregnant person’s ability to make personal medical decisions in consultation with their health-care provider and prohibit physicians from providing the safest possible care.

“These decisions should be made by a woman in consultation with her provider, not by legislators. Politicians shouldn’t play doctor,” Pomponio said. “We are heartened by Gov. Tomblin’s decision to place his trust in the women of West Virginia and the health-care community.”

Republican supporters of the bill are preparing to hold a vote to override the governor’s veto. West Virginia State Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer) told the Gazette-Mail that an override vote could come as early as Thursday.

“I believe Senate Bill 10 strikes the right balance between the rights of physicians to practice medicine, a woman’s right to privacy and the lives of unborn children,” Cole said. “The Senate will vote to override this veto without delay.”

Lawmakers can override the governor’s veto with a simple majority vote of the members of both legislative chambers. They have until Saturday at midnight before the legislature adjourns. Republicans hold a two-seat edge in the state senate, along with a 64-36 advantage in the house. 

West Virginia’s GOP-majority legislature voted last year to override Tomblin’s veto of an unconstitutional ban on abortion after 20 weeks, which was the the first time a governor’s veto has been overridden in West Virginia since 1987.